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Planning Court Judgments

Our latest update as to any rulings last week of the Planning Court together with any relevant appellate judgments, along with a commentary by Town Legal LLP and links. Where appropriate, we also include other relevant public law rulings from other courts.

Weekly Update – Week to 22 May 2020

This is a list of judgments of the Planning Court following a full hearing, or arising from an appeal from a Planning Court judgment, that were handed down in the preceding week. All links are to the relevant BAILII transcript. Summaries are for information only and are not to be relied upon as advice.

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Index:

  1. Swire, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government [2020] EWHC 1298 (Admin) (22 May 2020)
  2. Clientearth, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy & Anor [2020] EWHC 1303 (Admin) (22 May 2020)

1. Swire, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government [2020] EWHC 1298 (Admin) (22 May 2020)

Case Summary & Commentary: Click Here

Full Case: Click Here

Commentary: This was a successful claim for judicial review of the screening decision made by the Secretary of State that an Environmental Impact Assessment (‘EIA’) was not required for the proposed development of a site under the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017.

The site had been one of four sites in the UK licensed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for the disposal of infected cattle during the 1990s, and the developer had been granted permission for the demolition of the existing structures on the site and the erection of up to 20 dwellings with improved vehicle access and extensive landscaping. The Claimant lived nearby and objected to the proposed development.

The Court quashed the screening decision and found that the Secretary of State had unlawfully decided that planning permission could be granted without first undertaking an EIA, particularly since it had identified that the issue of contamination required further investigation, assessment and remediation if required. Following the case of Gillespie v First Secretary of State [2002] EWCA Civ 400, the Court held that it was unlawful to assume that effective remediation works could be worked out during the course of the development.

In the light of this conclusion, the Court did not consider it necessary to decide the Claimant’s further grounds of challenge alleging a failure to take into account a material consideration and irrationality.

Town Legal summary prepared by Safiyah Islam
2. Clientearth, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy & Anor [2020] EWHC 1303 (Admin) (22 May 2020)

Case Summary & Commentary: Click Here

Full Case: Click Here

Commentary: The claimant applied under section 118 of the Planning Act 2008 for judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision to grant development consent for the construction and operation of two gas-fired units at Drax Power Station. The claimant advanced nine grounds of challenge, including that the Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy (EN-1) required an assessment of need for the proposed development in particular and that the Secretary of State failed fully to consider the net zero target for greenhouse gas emissions under the Climate Change Act 2008.

The judge rejected all nine grounds of challenge. The need for gas-fired power generation was, the judge found, established by the relevant policy in EN-1 itself. Had the policy required need for gas-fired generation to be reassessed from time to time, this would have amounted to a review of the policy itself.

In terms of the lack of consideration of the net zero target by the Secretary of State, the judge found that it was entirely for the Secretary of State to determine, as a matter of judgement, the extent to rely on it. This judgement is only challengeable on grounds of rationality.

The claim for judicial review was dismissed.

Town Legal summary prepared by Ricardo Gama

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